Scheduled Monument

Loch of Huxter, brochSM2076

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Date Added
21/06/1934
Last Date Amended
30/03/2012
Type
Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch
Local Authority
Shetland Islands
Parish
Walls And Sandness
NGR
HU 17279 56954
Coordinates
417279, 1156954

Description

The monument comprises the remains of an Iron Age broch, built probably between 500 BC and AD 200. The broch is visible as a grass-covered stony mound externally, but its interior has been cleared out and reused as a sheep pen with an entrance cut through the wall in the north. The interior is 10m in diameter with the inner wall standing up to 1.6m high. The broch is located at the NE end of the freshwater Loch of Huxter on enclosed and improved grazing land. Its coastal location affords extensive views over the West mainland and the North Atlantic. The monument was first scheduled in 1934, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, measuring 50m in diameter, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. Specifically excluded from the scheduled area are the above-ground remains of the planticrub southeast of the broch, the stone boundary wall north of the broch, and the structural stonework associated with the damming of the Loch of Huxter, to allow for their maintenance.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

Despite the later disturbance of the site (with some quarrying of material on the NW side and reuse of the interior as a sheep pen), the broch survives in reasonable condition. The structural footprint appears largely intact and the lower courses of the broch are sealed by later infill. Several architectural features are still visible, including the wall thickness, much of the internal wall face and traces of the outer wall; a mural cell and gallery space in the SE arc; and a low stone outwork in the southern arc. A rich artefact assemblage has been recorded from this site in the past, including querns, 'mallets', knives, pottery and bones. Despite later disturbances of the site, it is highly likely that earlier deposits, contemporary with the construction and original use of the broch, are likely to be preserved beneath the later uses. These and the standing remains have considerable potential to enhance our understanding of the use and function of the broch and the daily lives of the people who lived here. There is high potential for the recovery of further artefacts and ecofacts to help us understand more about the lives, economy and social status of the people and the extent to which this varied over time.

Later structures in the vicinity (a loch-side dam and sluice, field dykes, a nearby planticrub and a high boundary wall) may have incorporated stone quarried from the broch itself.

Contextual characteristics

This broch is one of over 130 known of in Shetland. They are a particularly distinctive type of Iron Age roundhouse structure and are likely to have served a variety of functions. While a domestic and agricultural function has been inferred from the evidence of excavated brochs elsewhere, researchers have also considered the symbolic and strategic significance of these buildings, their outworks and their position in the surrounding landscape. The broch at Loch of Huxter is similar in several respects to the surviving example at Clickhimin. Researchers have drawn parallels between the two based on their positions (both are sited next to a body of water), as well as the architectural similarities.

This example is particularly interesting because of the relative rarity of its mural feature: a gallery space leading in one direction only, with an expanded cell at the end. Researchers have suggested that this broch is neither particularly complex nor long-lived, which suggests it may have high potential to tell us about a specific phase during the several hundred years that brochs were in use, as well as provide further insight into more general issues such as the function(s), longevity and symbolism of brochs.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular of Iron Age Shetland and the role and function of brochs. The survival of structural and artefactual material from the broch's development can help us understand more about the lifestyles of the people occupying these monuments and something of their pattern of activity. Its loss would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand this class of monument and the wider Iron Age landscape of Scotland.

References

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the site as HU15NE 4. The Shetland Amenity Trust SMR records the site as MSN217.

References

Mackie, E W 2002, The roundhouses, brochs and wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c.700BC-AD500: architecture and material culture, Part 1: The Orkney and Shetland Isles. BAR British Series 342. Oxford, 58.

RCAHMS, 1946, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Twelfth report with an inventory of the ancient monuments of Orkney and Shetland, 3v Edinburgh, 146.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

Scheduling is the way that a monument or archaeological site of national importance is recognised by law through the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments of national importance using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The additional information in the scheduled monument record gives an indication of the national importance of the monument(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the monument(s). The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief and some information will not have been recorded. Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at www.historicenvironment.scot.

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot. You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at designations@hes.scot.

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Printed: 15/11/2018 08:04